Le Bestiaire, charming verse sketches of beasts, fish, birds and insects, together with their guide and mentor, Orpheus, was Apollinaire’s first published book. It appeared in 1911, two years before his ground-breaking modernist collection Alcools. His bestiary – not modernist – harks back to a venerable tradition of animal poetry. What Apollinaire does in these single-stanza pieces is link pithy evocations of the animal world to human foibles.
Martin Sorrell’s translations offer equally pithy English equivalents of Apollinaire’s witty little morality tales, and some of Apollinaire’s own rarely-seen animal drawings are included.
Published June 2022